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Traditions, new and old

Progressive Dairyman Editor Emily Gwin Published on 12 December 2016

As we head into the Christmas season, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions. This is my first Christmas as a wife. My husband, Scott, and I began compromising on family traditions last Christmas as an engaged couple, but this year it feels a little more official.

Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was, of course, on Christmas morning. My siblings and I were instructed to wait upstairs in our bedrooms until our parents came in from milking. Then we’d line up on the stairs, youngest to oldest, and race down the steps when our parents gave us the OK.

I can still remember the thrill of running down the stairs. I was always a little afraid that my older brothers would run me over on the way down, but mostly I was excited to see what Santa had brought.

As I got older, I enjoyed helping Mom decorate the house for Christmas. I’d put on some Christmas music and pull out the ornaments and knickknacks, smiling as I put them in their usual spots around the house. But it never felt like it was really Christmas until we sang “Silent Night” by candlelight at our church’s Christmas Eve service.

Following the service, we’d head back to the house and try to catch the scene in A Christmas Story where the mother instructs Ralphie’s younger brother to show her “how the piggies eat” in order for him to eat his dinner. It made my dad laugh every year. And we’d all laugh, watching him laugh.

After the presents were opened, we’d have lunch. There would be a prayer beforehand, usually given by Grandpa. About five or 10 minutes into the meal, Grandpa would say to my mom, “Everything is very good, Vicky.” All other adults in attendance would nod in polite but firm agreement. (For full disclosure, this happens at every family meal – not just around the holidays.)

While I expect to participate in some of these same old traditions, I have many new traditions to look forward to this year, especially since our remodeling efforts on the house are finally coming to completion. We should be home for Christmas.

Last year, I began decorating Scott’s old house the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and he spent the day getting his tree stand ready for the first day of deer season. In the evening, he made popcorn, I made hot chocolate, and we watched White Christmas together.

While I’m not sure I can talk him into this every year, I’m certainly going to give it my best shot.

I can’t wait to put up the tree in our new house. I purchased this tree for Scott’s house last year, and I was delighted to get it home and find out that it rotated so every ornament got its turn on display. A few weeks later, Scott proposed to me in front of that tree. I’m so glad I get to relive that proposal each year as I decorate.

I’m excited to hang the ornaments especially meaningful to us, including the “First Christmas” ornaments we received as wedding presents and the moose ornament we picked up on our Alaskan honeymoon.

I’m eager to display the moose nativity scene each year that I bought in Estes Park, Colorado, on a vacation with Scott, my sister and her family.

I’ll be singing “Silent Night” by candlelight in a different church from here on out, but I expect it to be no less meaningful. Someday I hope to be hosting at least some of the family holiday dinners in our dining room.

And I pray that one day my own children will be lining up at the top of the stairs and racing down to see what Santa brought on Christmas morning.

Whatever your favorite traditions are, I hope you have a chance to celebrate with your family and friends. Merry Christmas!  end mark

Emily Caldwell
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